COP-8 summary

by William Yeatman on November 29, 2002

in Kyoto Negotiations, Politics

October 30, 2002

COP-8 Declaration under Fire

A draft “Delhi Declaration on Climate Change,” which is to be adopted at the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-8) currently underway, is being attacked by both the European Union and the G-77 and China. The declaration was rejected by the EU as “disappointing, unacceptable, and biased.”

“We find the declaration concentrated on adaptation and not on the mitigation of greenhouse gases,” said Thomas Becker, an EU spokesman. “There is no mention of the Kyoto Protocol in the declaration.” The EU also objects to the attempt to link global warming to sustainable development. “To link these issues completely will not be wise from a negotiation point of view,” said Becker. “We are not at all pleased with trying to start such a trend” (BNA Daily Environment Report, October 29, 2002).

The EUs objection to the linkage is probably due to the U.S.s ability to redefine sustainable development in terms of poverty eradication and economic development, which are not compatible with Kyotos objectives. Indeed, the draft recognizes, “that poverty eradication, changing consumption and production patterns, and protecting and managing the natural resource base for economic and social development are overarching objectives of, and essential requirements for, sustainable development.”

 The draft also talks about technological advancement and transfers, capacity building, economic diversification, and strengthening of institutions, things that the U.S. insisted should be the focus of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg. It also states, “Policies and measures to protect the climate system against human-induced change should be appropriate for the specific conditions of each Party and should be integrated with national development programs, taking into account that economic development is essential for adopting measures to address climate change.”

The G-77 and China also expressed disappointment in the document and demanded that it contain a call “to urge ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by all parties that have not done so.” The declaration should also name Africa as the region suffering the most from climate change (Outlook India, October 29, 2002).

November 13, 2002

COP-8 Boosts Adaptation and Poverty Eradication

The Eighth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded on Nov. 1 with the European Union in full retreat.

The major accomplishment of the conference was the approval of the Delhi Ministerial Declaration on Climate Change and Sustainable Development, which represents a major shift of emphasis from energy suppression to economic development and adaptation. “The emphasis on adapting is a profound turnabout from the course set a decade ago after President George Bush and other world leaders signed the [UNFCCC],” according to the New York Times (November 3, 2002). Prior to Delhi, “the emphasis was always about curbing emissions to prevent dangerous changes in the climate system.”

The emphasis on adaptation suited the United States, which sees itself as an economically developing country, and the less developed countries, which hope to rise out of poverty. The declaration states, “that economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing country Parties.”

The original draft of the declaration contained no mention of the Kyoto Protocol. The EU, as well as Russia and the G-77, demanded that the declaration, “strongly urge Parties that have not already done so to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in a timely manner,” which language ended up in the final draft. Russia and the G-77 also successfully lobbied for the inclusion of a finding that, “Africa is the region suffering the most from the combined impacts of climate change and poverty,” a scientifically baseless statement.

For its efforts, the United States was awarded the “Super Fossil Award” by the Climate Action Network. The award, which is usually just the “Fossil of the Day,” was given to the U.S. delegation for having the audacity to claim that economic growth is good for the environment and for refusing the put the economy into the tank.

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